Adjusting to big life changes can be quite the challenge. When that change is moving to a new house in an unfamiliar town, kids may have a particularly tough time. That’s especially true for school-aged children who may have left behind friends and the comfort of established routines. Parents have ways to help them cope with the various unknowns they’ll encounter, as well as the strangeness of the entire moving experience.
Below, we’ll go over a few pointers on approaching a move and getting settled into your new home sweet home.
Recognize the Potential Impacts of Moving
Moving is typically a big deal for kids. Although adults have to shoulder the financial and logistical stressors, children are faced with an emotional burden unique to moving. In fact, psychological research on the effects of childhood moves show many have temporary decreases in social skills along with increases in emotional and behavioral problems as a result.
Of course, every kid is different. Some may take the move in stride and show more resilience while others act out or react very strongly. No matter how your little ones take the news, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and take steps to make the transition easier.
All this begins with a clear conversation about the move. As early as possible, gather the family for a serious group discussion. Sitting down like this to go over what’s going to happen and what to expect can be very constructive. It allows kids to voice their concerns, ask questions and share how they’re feeling, whether that’s sad, mad or otherwise.
Be sure to keep explanations simple and age appropriate. You’ll also want to check back with them periodically leading up to the move and keep them updated on changes. As moving day gets closer, remember to be proactive and positive about what’s in store, no matter how frantic you feel.
Use Resources to Help
Depending on the age or verbal development of your children, it might be difficult for them to grasp the permanence or even just the concept of moving. If struggling, consider using resources designed to make the conversation easier. One option is to utilize books written to help normalize their emotions and fears or provide a preview of the upcoming experience.
You could also show them online pictures of the new house, outline the journey on a map if making a cross-country move or take a virtual walk-through of the neighborhood. Such visuals can help them feel more prepared and more at ease when they arrive at the destination.
Pack and Unpack Strategically
Little ones may have strong reactions when they see their belongings being packed away. To keep the stress — and the mess — to a minimum, it’s recommended to pack their bedroom last and then unpack it first thing. Be sure to set aside essentials and the items they simply can’t sleep without in their own box. The last thing you want on Moving Day is to deal with a major meltdown when a favorite goes missing.
It also helps to do the sorting and packing when they’re asleep. Doing so could help avoid the stress of seeing their old toys being donated or taped away in a box. Another route to consider is to enlist the help of professional moving services to handle the packing and unpacking along with moving and storage. That way, you’re free to take care of the kiddos while the experts handle the heavy lifting.
Focus on the Positives
After moving day, there are several ways to “warm up” the house so to speak and make it into a safe haven. Depending on the age of your kids, you could:
- Let them make certain design choices for their rooms or shared living spaces.
- Schedule a virtual playdate with old friends.
- Invite over new neighborhood playmates.
- Tour the area and create a list of fun things to do in the near future.
- Get back into your old routines as soon as possible.
Limiting the impact of moving on your family takes work, patience and understanding. As you go through the experience as a family, remember to lend a sympathetic ear and give them plenty of time to adjust.
Author bio: Stan Caramalac is the founder and CEO of Move Central. He started the company because he truly believed that moving could be simple as long as it was done efficiently. He strives to help people make their moves smoother and less stressful. Caramalac and his team proudly serve San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.